Saturday, 2 March 2013

Money Smart Nail Art (long post!) has been a website I have used for many years, to compare quotes on insurance for cars, travelling, house contents, but also for things like getting a desired mobile phone free of charge with the lowest tariff, changing my gas provider and comparing which companies provided the fastest internet in our area.  They are currently holding a competition for bloggers to post about "Money Smart Nail Art" you can read more about this here.  This is my entry, I'm really excited to have a go at this.

MSM have highlighted that in the current economic climate nail salons and sales of nail polish are booming, I've always been guilty of my monthly treat being to go out and buy polish, but I have noticed this with a couple of my friends too: compared to other "treats" you can certainly get a few decent polishes for £20, especially if you take advantage of offers in stores or buy from low priced websites.  Personally it's better for me to shop online, I can check open new tabs and view pictures of the polish and read blogger posts to see if it is already similar to something I own, plus I'm more likely to think twice about if I actually need something online.  If I am in a store my hot little hands have hold of the bottle and I will buy it then get home and realise I already have something similar, or read a review saying how diabolical the polish is to apply.

For my entry into this competition I have checked out the "going rate" on a manicure at my regular hair / beauty salon and used that as a starting price, I'm aiming to show just what you could buy for that money and how many different looks you could create, saving you trips back to that salon a couple of weeks later to have your nails done again, but of course you may already have some of these items at home already and be able to save even more money!

At my local hair and beauty place they have a "menu" of prices for manicures varying between £17 for a basic file and polish up to £22 for a 30 minute manicure using Jessica polishes.  Jessica isn't a brand I have ever tried as I don't find the range particularly exciting and the colours are nothing new.  I can certainly find similar colours for less if I wanted them.  I have taken the £22 price point to "set up" for many manicures at home.  Anyone who likes to have their nails done or take care of their nails is likely to already have some basic kit at home, so I'm not including nail files, polish remover, cotton wool or hand cream into this figure.  

If you're wanting to go for a full pamper session you can always start off this by filing their nails to an even shape:  one of the main features of getting your nails "done" is walking away with even, nicely shaped nails.  If you have one nail which is a lot shorter than the rest or a couple of talons, some stumps and a couple somewhere in between you'll be ruining the overall look.  Personally I find that it is easier for me to shape my nails whilst wearing polish, so I do this before removing any old polish.  This is due to my nail beds being different lengths, if I was shaping them using my free edge as a guide then my nails would look different lengths when painted.

Next remove any old polish.  What I find works best for me is a remover using some acetone, I apply this to cotton wool pads, hold over the polish for a second or two then wipe towards tip of nail to avoid any colour staining my cuticles.
 Next up if you're going for a full manicure would be to exfoliate (if you're just painting skip the next steps and go straight to polishing!)  You can do this at home using any products you may have specifically for hand care.  If you don't have any hand exfoliators you could try a facial exfoliation product.  Another option to do it yourself could be to squirt some liquid soap onto your skin and add a little pinch of salt or sugar to the soap then rub this over your hands for a short time then rinse off (if you have very sensitive skin then be careful with this step or skip it all together)  I am prone to eczema outbursts which leave me with dry, cracked skin on the inside of my fingers, so I have to be very careful about the products I use on my hands.  Follow exfoliation with rubbing some hand cream in, give your hands a gentle massage whilst applying and relax a while letting it soak in.  
 If you have applied any creams you'll need to give your hands a rinse and quickly wipe all nails down with a little remover before polishing otherwise the oils may create a residue which prevents your polish from adhering, so to help your nails last try not to skip this step.

Ok so onto painting the nails!

I've used my £22 manicure price to get a basic set of items which will allow you to create quite a few designs.  My basic kit is :

  • Poshe Fast Drying Nail Base which I bought for £4.95 with free delivery from an online store.  Base coat is a must, do not be tempted to skip this or you risk horrible staining!  
  • I have three Barry M polishes in Pomegranate (pink) Prickly Pear (lilac) and Blackberry (deep purple) these retail at £3.75 each with free delivery from an online seller, although recent in store offers make these two for £6.  Barry M is a range which delivers a lot of quality for a low price, the polish is generally offering full coverage in one or two coats and it lasts well.  The Gelly range is actually more of a premium range offering high shine, like a gel manicure, but you could choose alternative colours from the normal range for a lower price.  
  • The top coat I'm using for these is W7 Diamond top coat which is available for £1.99 with free delivery, this drys fairly quickly and will seal the nail art in.  Once you have saved on a few manicures you could invest in one of the more expensive top coats like Seche or Poshe, these dry VERY quickly and really do help prevent you from damaging your nails or potentially getting sheet marks if you go to bed.  

To add to these basics and start off with nail art I'm also using £1.99 for dotting tools, I got mine from eBay and on there a set of five double ended dotters, buy it now from a UK seller with free delivery is £1.99, although if you are prepared to wait for them to come from overseas or to bid you can get them for less.   Also from eBay is a set of 15 brushes for striping and creating other designs can be found for £2.20 from a UK seller including delivery.  Again you can save if you bid or buy from overseas.   This means my total "starter kit" is £22.38.  The last couple of items are something you can improvise with, I first tried dotting using a hairgrip and a the round end of a pin and the first brushes I tried were paintbrushes, but for such a small spend the dotting tools and brushes have given me a wider range of options.

I have featured a different design on the each nail below.  Each design could be used on all nails, but for anyone first starting out I'd recommend trying an "accent nail" with four plain nails to start of with.  Once you know how hard or easy you find the technique and how your results are turning out you can decide if you wish to do all ten nails, or if one on each hand is enough!  

I have used the nails on my right hand and I am right handed, I did this to show that it is possible to use your none dominant hand for these designs!

First up the dotting tools....

These are all pretty self explanatory, the interlocking one looks really hard to do, but is actually quite simple.  Paint the base colour, allow a couple of minutes, paint a diagonal line, allow a couple of minutes, the place dots along the line.  I bodged up all of these as I didn't allow long enough before topcoating, so that's one to learn from me!  

Next up is the brushes, I haven't really done that many designs using brushes along the way, I am mad for my dotting tools really!  I do like using the fan brush to create the design on the right, it's so simple to do just dip the brush into polish then drag over the nail left to right and right to left.  Repeat until you're happy with the coverage, then topcoat.

Next up is marbling finishes.  L-R I have done a gradient, Saran Wrap, watercolour and I don't know the technical name for the last one!  Each of these started with a base of Prickly Pear and some topcoat to dry, then after about 25 minutes I did the marbling. The gradient was done using a small piece of sponge cut off an (unused) scouring pad, I painted a stripe of each of the purple polishes onto the sponge then dabbed until I was happy with the results.  The Saran Wrap nail involved painting the nail with Pomegranate then immediately dabbing it off with a scrunched up ball of cling-film, not happy with the first results I then painted over the results again with Prickly Pear and dabbed some more.  Watercolour involves putting a dab of polish onto a plastic food bad, dipping a paintbrush into remover and mixing the two until the polish is thinner, then painting it on.  I used all three colours and dabbed until I was happy.  The nail on the right had polish dotted on it in random places, I then put a square of freezer bag over it and squished the polish so it all mixed together and created a marbling effect.

Texture nails are quite big at the moment, the nails below were painted one at a time and immediately dipped into a pot of salt.  I haven't added topcoat as I wasn't wearing this for a long time.  If I was intending to wear this I would top coat and keep some kitchen roll on hand to wipe the brush each time before returning it to the bottle.

Water marbling is something of a nemesis for me, it either goes really well or is horrible.  This is done by using a plastic cup full of water, dropping polish onto the surface and dragging the design into the polish, the dipping each finger in.  There are plenty of video tutorials on you tube, I would certainly watch one of these before trying this technique.

The final design I have done is a full manicure which I would wear.  I did a similar one recently which got repinned a lot on Pinterest!  This is a leopard print design which is particularly easy to do using dotting tools and a paintbrush.  After painting the base colour, dot the centre of the spot, then use a paint brush to add a broken up, uneven "edge" and you're done!

Here in these pictures I have shown eighteen potential ways of using the basic kit of £22.38!  If you're going to get your nails done - even if the place you go to is only £10 a time this could still have a value of £180 for just a small inital investment and of course the money you save could help you build up a few more colours in your collection and more options for nail art will become available to you!  When considering other options for nail art, eBay is a great place to start by searching nail art.  Once you sort results by Price + P&P you can see how low priced some items like gems and studs are which again will mean more options for nail art!

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